Kincora cover-up evidence finally to be heard by Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry

Solicitor Claire McKeegan speaking on behalf of Kincora abuse survivor Gary Hoy outside Belfast High Court

CLAIMS of state collusion in a paedophile ring at a notorious Belfast care home will be examined publicly for the first time tomorrow by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA).

It follows a Court of Appeal ruling on Friday that the Banbridge-based inquiry is the appropriate forum to hear the evidence from victims at Kincora Boys' Home.

Lawyers for Gary Hoy (54), a former resident of the home, had argued that the investigation being chaired by Sir Anthony Hart does not have the power to properly scrutinise the allegations that the 1970s abuse had been covered up to protect an intelligence-gathering operation.

Supported by other survivors, he had been seeking a separate, human rights-compliant probe from secretary of state Theresa Villiers, which would be able to compel the security services to hand over documents or testify.

It has long been suspected that well-known figures within the British establishment, including high-ranking civil servants and senior military officers, were involved.

Kincora, formerly located on Newtownards Road, was opened by the Belfast Welfare Authority in 1958 and closed in 1980.

Allegations of abuse first surfaced in 1977 and the RUC at Belfast's Strandtown and Donegall Pass stations gave prosecutors a report detailing allegations of boys being sexually abused and prostituted, and linking prominent businessmen.

In 1981, three members of staff at the home, William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains, were convicted of a number of offences relating to the systematic sexual abuse of children in their care over a number of years.

Mains, who had been the warden, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment, Semple, an assistant warden, to five years, and McGrath was jailed for four years.

Kincora is one of 22 institutions in Northern Ireland under investigation by the inquiry through public hearings in relation to allegations of historical institutional abuse and/or neglect.

Sir Anthony Hart will give an opening address tomorrow, outlining the matters which the inquiry will address, including those concerning Kincora Boys' Home.

Inquiry lawyer Joseph Aiken will then provide a detailed overview of the home in opening the module ahead of witness evidence being heard.

After the evidence on Kincora is completed, Christine Smith QC, senior counsel to the inquiry, will provide a detailed overview of Bawnmore Children's Home, Newtownabbey.

Bawnmore on the Whitewell Road, catered solely for boys and was opened by the Belfast Welfare Authority in the mid 1950s, operating until 1977.

The Northern Health and Social Services Board managed it from 1972.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was established in January 2013 by the Northern Ireland Executive with a remit to investigate child abuse in residential institutions between 1922 and 1995.

It is expected to hear from more than 450 witnesses during the course of the public evidence sessions, with a report to be submitted to ministers in January 2017.

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